Saturday, December 15, 2012

but can't we all agree skirts are better anyway?

I have not really blogged in a very long time. Not since August 2011 I think. A lot has happened in our lives since then and it is sad that I have to give up the hope of ever catching up. The most significant event is the birth of our 5th child - 4th son - Truman Axel Wiley on June 2, 2012, but if you follow Scott or me on Instagram you already know all about that. It's been so long since I've blogged that blogger has changed so much and I don't even know how to use it anymore. 

I got really wrapped up in the recent presidential election and had high hopes of some exciting changes happening if Mitt Romney won. I spent a lot of time and emotional/mental energy following the issues and listening to the arguments on both sides and developing my positions, and when I felt it start to unravel near the end I got really frustrated because I felt like my voice was not being represented. I came out of that experience thinking I somehow needed to figure out how to communicate better and to be more willing to speak out for what I believe. I am surrounded by so many talented people and it is easy for me to discount my contribution on the content side in favor for my contribution behind the scenes. I do not seek the spotlight ever, however it was really hard to watch that election come and go and feel unnoticed. So here goes...

I am a 36-year-old stay-at-home mother of 5. I work full-time from home in a male-dominated field as a software engineer for a liberal-leaning, socially conscious and politically correct company in Silicon Valley. My husband, to whom I've been married for 15 years, is a record producer and a musician and we are both very active in the local artist and music community, which we find to be quite diverse and open-minded and culturally interesting, beyond just being ultra talented and inspiring. We live in Provo, Utah but come originally from Los Angeles. I'm a social and fiscal conservative. I'm an active Mormon. I am a walking contradiction.

Recently there has been a lot of talk about gender roles within our church, even going so far as several women proposing a protest where they wear pants to church on Sunday to show solidarity in support of women's rights and gender equality. A lot of it is not new. Some of it has come out more visibly since women's issues and Mormonism were such a big part of the election. But either way it is happening now and I have been confronted with the fact that this is really not my issue and it doesn't move me one way or the other, but then if that is so how can I  think of myself as enlightened and open minded? 

It has been very interesting to me to be close friends with Courtney while she's been going through so much introspection and self realization as she writes her life story, and also while she has been put into a position (and put herself into a position) where she is an advocate for women's rights in the church and in life in general. I respect and appreciate her thoughtful approach and her desire to think things through and discuss and consider all sides and form intelligent positions - we have thought-provoking conversations and she is always interested in my take and experience. I also appreciate her strong testimony of the gospel, her sensitivity to the Spirit, and her desire to be righteous and faithful. 

She tells me about real women who write to her, and tells me about her experiences in her own past, and they talk about how they are really hurting and frustrated with their position in the church with relation to men. At first it would just make me mad and impatient. I wanted to dismiss it as something these women needed to get over and something they are imagining and projecting onto the rest of us. But she has helped me to understand that while it might not be my issue, it is a very real issue to a large number of women, and we have a responsibility as sisters in the Relief Society and as Christians to be sensitive to them and help them if we can. And moreover it is a high-visibility social issue for the church so having strong women ready to speak out on either side is important.

On an issue like this there are women who speak out and insist on change, and then there are those of us who don't. The problem is that there are actually two camps of us on the quiet side, but because we are quiet it is easy to assume we are all the same. There are some who are unenlightened and unthinking and blind followers. Perhaps they are so entrenched in and brainwashed by the male chauvinist rhetoric that they believe it themselves or at least wouldn't dare speak out against it. But there are also those of us who are so confident in our identity as valued daughters of God that the presumed inequalities and perceived injustices do not affect us - either we don't notice them because it is not our issue or if we do notice we can chalk it up to creepy individuals and not a broader problem.

Courtney would ask me what EVIDENCE do you have that you are valued at church? What do we DO to SHOW young women that they are important and valued in relation to boys? It made me feel dumb that I couldn't think of immediate answers to support my position because I hadn't spent time thinking about it before. And why hadn't I spent time thinking about it? Was I just a blind sheep following along and doing what the men tell me to do? Of course not! So surely there must be EVIDENCE but why couldn't I think of it? Anything I would mention seemed so trite and inconsequential to me. 

Then it was an A-HA moment for me one day when I realized "why would it ever even occur to a woman that she's not valued or just as important as boys are to Heavenly Father" and right then and there I realized where I'd come from and why this is not my issue. 

I do not look for evidence or gestures to show me that I'm important because I already KNOW that I am. It's like asking, "what evidence do you have that you're alive" and your immediate thought is "why would you ask me that, of course I know that I am alive, it's not even an interesting issue or discussion." But for someone that is very sick and near death they might spend a good deal of their time paying attention to evidence of their declining or improving health. Now that does not mean that the evidence doesn't exist for me too and when pressed I can think through experiences and opportunities I've had at church and in life that reinforce my views, just like I could do if I really needed to catalog the checklist of things that mean I am alive.

I have discussed this at length with my mother and my 3 sisters, and we all share a similar position and view on these issues. It is really comforting and reassuring to have that support system to help reinforce my memories and understand my background better. 

So there are two things to be mindful of going forward. 1-How did we get here so that we can ensure we are raising our daughters and teaching young women at church to get here too; and 2-What can we do for women today who are not as confident in their value or feel like they need more evidence of their value.

On the first point, my mom obviously raised us to be strong, smart, independent women, just like her. We are capable and know we can accomplish great things because we saw her do it. For better or worse we know (or at least think?!) that we can do ANYTHING and gender has never been a factor in that at all. We were always encouraged (again mostly through example) to get married and be mothers and wives, but not because that is where we would find our place or value but rather because that is the Plan of Salvation and a path to happiness and fulfillment in this life. We were taught the value of taking care of our bodies and caring about our outward appearance (heaven knows I love clothes & shoes as much as the next girl), but it was never to an undue degree where our looks were equated with our value.

One of the most valuable lessons my mom ever taught us was to "assume love" and I have realized that for me that also extends to "assume equality". With the idea that I am not loved or that I am not considered equal off the table, it frees me up to interpret and understand other peoples actions in different ways and potentially to get outside myself more and realize it's usually not even about me at all. 

But I hadn't always given great credit to my dad in this effort of raising strong daughters until I heard stories of alternative experiences. My dad has always loved and respected my mom publicly and privately. I can't think of a single experience in my childhood where I saw him belittle her or speak poorly of her or suggest that she was anything other than strong and capable and smart and virtuous. He showed us how a man is supposed to treat a woman, and therefore what sort of man we should each look for in a spouse and what sort of men we should raise our boys to be. 

There is no doubt that he has some deep-seeded traditional views as to gender roles and at least for me part of my life experience has been to separate from that a bit and chart my own path. But even when he'd say to me "anything less than 6 kids is a waste of your talents" (sorry dad - I'm stopping at 5!) it was clear that he was not suggesting that my role as a woman was to be quiet and sit at home and have babies but rather that he recognized and valued my strength and capabilities and wanted to encourage me reach my potential. He was the one advising me in college to pursue a degree in a male-dominated field because he knew it suited me and it could provide flexibility that could be beneficial to my family in the long run (which it has). It has been eye-opening and disheartening to me to realize that not all dads were like this and not all husbands treat their wives this way. That is sad.

Having been grounded by this base-level understanding of my individual worth at home, all my experiences throughout my life have only served to reinforce and help develop my sense of self - from church, to school, work, friends, family, my marriage, and my roles in our home. 

I have hope that as I raise my kids they will naturally understand their value because I do and that these views will be instilled in them because they are inside me. Like the home I came from, everything I do in my home is with the base-level understanding that both men and women are loved and valued children of God so that any differences we see or pursue are not coming from a place of inequality or differing value but rather practicality, convention, or divine guidance. It does not take special effort or thought or planning for me to teach these things, they just are.

It is said that the role of the church is to support families and reinforce values taught in the home and I believe on this point that it does just that. If you come from a home where you are taught that men are better than or more important or valued than women, you can certainly interpret the doctrinal structure and cultural conventions within the church as evidence of this. But if you come from a home where gender equality is not an issue, it wouldn't even occur to you that anything at church suggested that either. But problems occur in places where there is a high concentration of views on one side or the other so that it becomes more acceptable to teach and reinforce in church things that cross the line from doctrinal to cultural in an unbalanced way. (I think you could find evidence of this in both an overly chauvinistic society as well as an overly liberal area, etc.) So then in the case where you have someone come to church seeking solace from the injustices they feel at home, they will be disappointed to find the same people teaching those things at home are teaching them at church too. Or on the converse if you are someone who comes to church assuming equality but then find an over-abundance of views, teaching and treatment to the contrary, you can start to question that and wonder if the church teaches the opposite from what you'd learned at home. 

So the second point above is where we're treading now. We must first recognize that this is a real issue to many women, and feel sorrow and sympathy for them as they try to make sense of their place in the church and in the world. And then we can listen and see if there are meaningful things that could be done to help them feel better. Things that don't threaten the doctrine or the divine source of the gospel. Things that are cultural or conventional that might not make a difference to us either way but could make a difference for others if they were changed. Even if many of these things wouldn't even occur to us as negative so we wouldn't have thought of the need to change them on our own, if it helps someone else to do it differently, then it should be fine with me and moreover I should be willing to actively participate in their change. 

I definitely do not like the idea of protesting at church. I find it distracting and disrespectful. But I'd like to somehow get the point across that while it is not my issue, I'm sensitive to the problem and interested in helping to seek resolution. The world will be the same for me either way and better for them, so that ultimately means better for everyone all around. I think there is room for more understanding on both sides, but in particular there needs to be a recognition that not everyone on the quiet side is antagonistic to their agenda so we do not need to be viewed or treated as the small minded unenlightened. 

This is why I do not like the label Feminist - not because I don't believe women are just as good as (if not better in many ways) than men and ought to be treated that way and not because I don't agree with many tenets of their beliefs - but because it is a loaded and divisive and inflammatory label. It is black and white in a very grey area - they want you to declare that you're either one or else you're not. Plus it's not even an adequately descriptive term - it still requires you to qualify what type of feminist you are or what type of equality you believe in. And this pants protest is the same way - it will be loaded and divisive and inflammatory and inadequately descriptive when the discussion doesn't need to be that way. 

I am anxious and willing to be a part of the changes that will help all women realize their individual worth in the eyes of God. Even if I'm wearing a skirt.
(because really, skirts are better anyway)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Z Sisters update

That was fun to have mom post last week from Morocco. Read it here.
We're excited to welcome them back here to Provo on Friday - after 6 long weeks abroad. Just in time for Easter.
Now on to the update... in order of delivery...
(Note that the instruction for this week was casual conference-weekend pictures, so don't expect any great fashion statements this week.) (Because I know usually you do.)


ANNEE


Last Weeks:
  • Darin came home from Oregon! It was only a week, but it felt so long!
  • One great thing happened while he was gone, I hit my second trimester. And as so many before me had predicted I actually started to feel better. The first day, I still remember, it was March 14th. I didn't feel like I needed to fall asleep at every point of my day. It was so weird and great all at the same time. I stayed awake all the way until 9:30 that night :) To celebrate I sewed a bunch of stuff that had been sitting and waiting for me to get to it. It was grand.
  • I subbed for two full days at school and it was fine. I felt FINE! The next week a kindergarten teacher asked me if I'd sub for her. I was on a roll, so I said yes. Her class was so awful, at noon, I honestly wanted to quit. I couldn't believe it! These were kindergarteners!! What is our world coming to?! They had absolutely no respect for authority. I got so frustrated by the end of the day that I totally snapped, and just yelled at the whole class. I made one little girl start to cry. It made me rethink my subbing. I will be very selective in who I'll sub for. My days alone are limited. I don't want to waste them on kids who make me totally insane!
  • I started a long anticipated quilt. I've wanted to turn my Echo fabric collection into a quilt for at least a month. I started cutting, and kept cutting for about three days. It took forever. I now have all 42 of my blocks assembled, but I'm having a hard time liking the layout. I might finish it this week. Or I might put it away for a little while and see if I like it better later. I have dresses on my mind.
  • Took the boys to see Hunger Games on the first day it was released. We had a great time.
  • Went to the Durham Performing Arts Center to watch Ira Glass with a bunch of girl friends. It was a really fun night. If you are a fan of "This American Life", you would love a live Ira Glass show. I'm so glad I went.
  • Darin took me on another three mile hike. He filled his pockets full of snacks, then told me to carry a beverage. He brought his phone. The last three mile hike I think kind of scared him too. He wanted to make sure I wouldn't pass out on him. I made it! It was such a beautiful day. I love our life right now. What a treasure to have so much time together to strengthen our relationship, before we submerge it into great turmoil again. Somedays we need a break from each other because we have a LOT of time together. But somedays I feel like there wasn't enough time to do everything we had wanted to do together.
  • Darin woke up on Saturday (yesterday) like an Earnest on Fire. He started with the pantry and the powder room. By the time I was out of bed and breakfast was over, the entire house was being tackled by an entire work crew of Earnests. All four bathrooms got cleaned, yet I only cleaned ONE! Kids cleaning bathrooms is the best invention EVER!!!! They can do it. After you give them clear and simple instructions and put their hands into rubber gloves, they really can make those bathrooms clean again.
  • Lovely Conference Sunday. We all watched the morning session together with our giant bowl of candy. We listen to the first minute of a talk, then we pause it. While it's paused, everyone has to commit to a word. When we start listening again, each person is listening for a specific word. When they hear it, they get a candy out of the bowl. We've been doing it for a few years now. It really works so well for us. By the end of that first session everyone is so sick and stuffed with candy that no lunch is required. We went out to the big field with bikes, balls, baseball bats. We made it home just in time for the next session, which is much more casual. Attendance isn't mandatory.
  • One last thing from the last two weeks. I had another ultrasound. I was so anxious again. One thought I kept having was that they would tell me "just kidding, there is only one baby after all!". The other thought I kept having was that something would be wrong. A heartbeat would have stopped, or whatever. I think I hardly slept the night before. Darin couldn't get out of class early enough so again I was alone. It was the same doctor as last time, and she said I seemed a lot calmer this time. It's hard to describe my great relief when I saw four arms, four legs, and two beating hearts. If I'm having twins, I'm going to HAVE TWINS. I've got to get these guys here. They were in there squirming all around. The miracle of life hasn't hardly ever hit me so hard. It was miraculous.

This Week:
  • Four day school week. Spring break starts on Friday. I am so ready! I don't need a nap every single day anymore, but waking up at 6:15 is getting harder and harder. We will stick around until the following Wednesday, then after Darin gets out of class at noon, we want to head out to the Outer Banks. We could go to a closer beach, but my children want to go to Duck's Donuts. I have no doubt that they are my children when they make such decisions based on donuts! We'll just find a hotel close to the beach and stay for two nights. This time we'll go to some lighthouses, and the sand dunes. The water might be cold, so I don't know how much actual beaching we'll do, but we'll be so happy to be at the ocean again!
  • I want to make Easter dresses. I have some ideas, nothing concrete yet. I hope I'll find the energy.
  • Pedicure? I don't have a lot on my agenda for this week :)
  • Need to figure out if our three sets of nursery leaders are going to be around for the summer. If not, it's time to get nursery figured out. Our student families start leaving for the summer as early as end-of-April. I have a feeling April is going to go by pretty quickly!
  • Update the blogs. I've promised Liz some sewing blog updates. And I really wanted to update our family blog. It's been over a month. I don't know if I've ever taken that long of a break before?!
  • Make butternut squash risotto. It's almost all I could think about today, after Rachel emailed me about how much I should make it. I think it's for lunch tomorrow!
  • Have family home evening. We're doing a new round of making each kid be in charge for a week. Ruby was last week, Jane is this week, George was before them. It works out so much better. We maybe aren't learning as much as we could be, but the consistency is what we are going for!
  • Seriously, I can't think of anything else. Sorry!

ANA

Last few weeks:
  • Zack turned 32! We celebrated by eating way too much cake and surrounded ourselves with family and good friends during the week. Jack and I woke up early and decorated the house with balloons as is now required for all Zack Zackrison holidays.
  • We surprised attacked Jack with a mid week trip to Disneyland. Growing up my dad would surprise us one day a year and drive us to school and then say, instead of school what if we went to the beach, the zoo, sea world, San Francisco, Knotts Berry Farm, Horse back riding...you get the idea. I still remember the first year he did it, how utterly surprised and excited Dani and I were. It was so much fun to plan Jacks first family ditch day! We set out clocks forward an hour so we could get out of the house early and not have him ask questions and got everything packed the night before. We then drove to school and suggested that we go to Disneyland instead of school today and kept driving. We had a blast as a family and can't wait for next year!
  • Sickness. Zack, then Jack, then Will, then Jack and now Will. Really it's been awesome.
  • Finally finished our taxes. Let's just say for random reasons I did then twice in the online version and twice in the desktop version and even using the same numbers never got the online and desktop refunds to match up. Finally I gave up and submitted them.
  • Took both kids in for doctors appointments. Jacks cough continues to baffle doctors. Will is in the 99% of height.
  • Tried to teach Will Baby to sit up. His body is so long and there's so much of it he just topples over. Someday.
  • Enjoyed a visit from some HBS friends. It was nice to remember how great and unique those years were.
  • Took Jack to his first extreme dodgeball class. It was pretty awesome. They have huge blow up obstacles that the kids hide behind. Jack had a blast. It was kind of the perfect class for him.

Next week:
  • Work
  • exercise
  • get kids healthy
  • ok my life sounds really boring...

RACHEL

Past Couple Weeks:
  • The iPad arrived!! It's great! Still trying to decide if it could replace bringing a laptop on our next trip. Also ended up getting an AppleTV so we could stream photos like the Wiley's. And watch conference.
  • Ken had his second interview at Cassidy Turley. All went well! Now we wait.
  • Ken succumbed to the marketing of Charles Barkley and signed up for weight watchers. So far it's been fun and provides a new way to think about trade offs and food in terms of points instead of calories. We've eaten more vegetables so by those fruits I judge it as good.
  • Monday was my early out day. I met ken at the grocery story, then came home and cooked lunches/dinners for week.
  • Tuesday I worked til 2am.
  • Wednesday I worked til 130am. (Sadly I'm pretty sure Steve out worked me each day. Rough times)
  • Thursday my back was hurting when i woke up but I didn't think too much about it. I figured it was too much sitting at my desk for the week. The pain got progressively worse throughout the day until I could not walk more than 10 feet without sitting down. It was crazy! I left the office (had to roll outside in my chair!!) and crawled into the house at 730pm. I stayed in bed the rest of the night and all day Friday. (see my instagram for details) We had plans to see Hunger Games with friends on Thursday night so I was really bummed to miss out on that but oh well!
  • CZ and Jon stopped by on Friday night.
  • Saturday I was still mostly bed ridden and sleep a lot. It was very slick to use the ipad and apple tv to watch conference. Ken worked all day. At the end of the day I was stir crazy enough so I rigged up a chair and cooked some Butternut Squash Risotto as our special conference treat.
  • Sunday we watched conference together at home. My back is healing I can tell. I didn't play any jokes on Ken for April Fool's Day which was a shame.. Next year. (I say that every year).

This Week
  • So so much work to do. I have to go back to work tomorrow or else I will seriously be disrupting everyone else. Hopefully I will be pain free. I guess I'll take my early day tomorrow anyway? Hard to let go of wanting to just get everything done myself right away.
  • I should use my early day to cook for the week again. Things went more smoothly.
  • I borrowed a co-worker's book one year ago. I need to return it this week. With brownies.
  • We've pretty much settled on Paris for Memorial Day. Ken talks to his manager on Tuesday for final clearance. Then we can buy tickets!
  • Need to get the safety inspection on my car.
  • Championship ward ball game on Friday night
  • I still really want to see hunger games!! I hope we can fit that in sometime this week/weekend.
  • Prepare my Easter Sunday lesson for 5 year olds.
  • Bake carrot cake cupcakes
  • Hard boil and dye some eggs. Use our fancy deviled egg plate.
  • See if there are any good plants available at the Vienna nursery this weekend.
  • Should we do a mini Easter egg hunt at home? That could be fun (or too much work??).


SARAH


Last Weeks:
  • Spent a few days with Webb & Laurel & Brett at a cabin up in Christmas Meadows, UT (outside Evanston) for one last winter hurrah. We had a great time getting all bundled up to play in the snow, having cocoa by the fire inside, riding snowmobiles, and hanging out in the hot tub. It was a really neat place, and fairly easy to get to. Maybe we'll go back someday.
  • As soon as we got back from the cabin, we celebrated June's 5th birthday. Scott had heroically done all the gift shopping right before our trip, and I had sent out party invitations. So on Wednesday we got up early and opened gifts before everyone went off to school, then I took June to the bakery to pick out a treat to take to school and a cake for her party. HEAR THAT?! I DIDN'T BAKE SCHOOL TREATS OR A BIRTHDAY CAKE. After school I took her to the party store to pick out decorations, party favors, and we bought 24 helium balloons. HEAR THAT?! I DIDN'T PLAN THE PARTY AT ALL BEFORE THAT DAY. We decided to try a pinata this year (which I've never done before and had no idea how we'd hang or hit or anything) and pin the tail on the donkey. At 4pm 15 friends came over and luckily the weather was great so we played outside for quite a while, played our games, ate cake, and then it was over. I was grateful Brenden and Julia were there to help out. After the party we made her requested spaghetti & meatballs for dinner and thus called the Wiley birthday season CLOSED.
  • Fell out of the car flat on my tailbone while trying to get June to school one day. As if sitting weren't hard enough already! And I was working so hard on not waddling. What an annoying injury.
  • Had a couple Rooftop Concerts planning meetings. Things are really picking up as we get ready to start the season next month. It's fun to have a new project to work on as I finish out this pregnancy.
  • One day we had a few spare hours and Huck suggested we go on a bike ride. Remembering how much I love doing that with the kids and appreciating the beautiful weather we've started having, I quickly agreed and packed them up and headed to the park. I somehow forgot to factor in my awkward shape/size/balance and how out of shape I currently am and barely made it there really huffing and puffing. Getting home was even worse. Quite the sight I'm sure.
  • FINALLY did all my grocery shopping - I think it's been about a month. It took a trip to Target, 2 trips to Smiths, and a trip to Costco but we should be stocked for quite a while now.
  • Took Oli to get an xray after he spent 3 days limping and complaining his ankle really hurt. It really takes a lot to impress me injury-wise, and even more to get me to actually go to the doctor for it, but 3 days seemed like enough time for any regular sprain to heal itself. But alas, it was just a sprain. Next time I'm waiting 5 days.
  • Took Brenden & Oliver in for follow-up dentist appointments - 2 sealants for Brenden and 2 extractions + 1 cavity filled for Oliver. Brenden was a cinch. Oliver's work was harder and I was pretty nervous since he has a tendency to get uncooperative when he's nervous. But he was so amazingly brave and in control. I know he was nervous but he had enough time to mentally prepare and he asked a lot of questions about logistics so he could anticipate and he did so great. What a relief.
  • I actually bought the $75 electric toothbrush the dentist was recommending for Brenden to use with his braces since I am obviously not doing a great job of teaching my kids to take care of their teeth properly so I'll try whatever they suggest at this point. The best feature is an automatic timer so the toothbrush shuts off after 2 minutes, and beeps every 30 seconds so you know to move to the next quadrant of your mouth. I think that will be great for B. I should probably also figure out about fluoride tablets. We've never done them and I've convinced myself that buying fluoridated bottled water was enough, but perhaps not so. Do any of you guys use fluoride supplements?
  • Hired a landscaping crew to take care of the yard all year. I'm very excited to have the stress gone, although I have already noticed something missing as it used to be one of my excuses to go outside once in a while.
  • Did a bit of spring wardrobe shopping for me, Huck & June. Nothing fancy. June's actually getting a bit easier to dress lately. Still no frilly dresses or skirts, but at least a bit more flexible.
  • Took Brenden & June in for checkups. Brenden needed Jr. High shots, and June needed Kindergarten shots. Good to get it taken care of pre-baby.
  • Got June registered for Kindergarten.
  • Enjoyed a casual and uplifting conference weekend. Especially loved Elder Holland's talk - great message and inspiring delivery. Amen to giving people the benefit of the doubt and not holding grudges and not looking for ways to be offended. Love that message.

This week:
  • Figure out a few final (major) details about the rooftop series so we can (hopefully) announce everything on Friday.
  • Finish potty training Huck. It's getting ridiculous now and we just have to be done with this. He's totally aware and capable, just lazy at this point. 2 months of no diapers isn't too much to ask.
  • Take June in for her follow up dentist appointment. She has 2 cavities and 1 crown so we will go ahead and put her to sleep for this one. She's not quite old enough to be willing to try to conquer her fears yet.
  • Get ready for Easter. Poor June for every holiday that comes along she asks so excitedly "Where's our [enter holiday] decorations, Mom? Can we put them up now?" Her preschool teacher is an uber-holiday-decorator so maybe that's where she gets it from. But it's been constant disappointment for Valentine's, St. Patrick's Day, and Easter already this year. We were at Target the other day where she did convince me to buy a few plastic eggs with holes in the ends that we could string in our trees out front - like one of her friends did. I don't know why I just don't really get into decorating for those kinds of holidays. Can't I get extra credit for going overboard with Christmas decorations and get a pass for the rest of the year?
  • We're excited about The Lower Lights being featured on BYUTV's episode of The Song That Changed My Life on the 9th. Also looking forward to a Lower Lights show with The Neon Trees this weekend. Wonder how that crazy pairing's going to work out?!
  • Haircut
  • Register Brenden for 7th Grade - choose electives. Crazy.

CHRISTINE

Last Couple Weeks (sorry this is so long):
  • I'm really not too sure where to start, I feel like I haven't sent in an update for awhile. I'll just make it easier and start with a couple weeks ago. One Saturday I went horseback riding out at a barn past Chantilly. On my way home I stopped at a mechanic in Chantilly to get my safety and emissions inspection to finally get the Jetta registered. To pass the emissions inspection I had to get a diagnostic test done to get the check engine life off (apparently if the check engine light is on you automatically fail, the check engine light has been on the entire time we've owned that car I'm pretty sure). During the diagnostic they found that a pretty important tube was broken completely in half. To make a long story short, I was told the total cost of the replacement would be $500 and they would pay for a rental car for me so that I could still get to work and all. They very confidently told me that with the replacement, the car would be able to run great for at least two or three years. I checked the reviews of this place on Yelp and they all seemed positive, and because they were so willing to get me a rental car, I decided to do it. The next Monday I dropped the car off on my way to work and picked it up on my way home. Seemed simple enough. When I picked it back up it actually felt like it was running great. I was thrilled.
  • Thursday of that same week Jon was coming to town for the weekend. I went into the city to pick him up from Union Station pretty late since his bus had been delayed. On our way back into Arlington, as we were crossing the bridge, the car died, right in the middle of the bridge. It completely stopped and wouldn't turn back on. It was 1AM. It was pretty ridiculous and I just couldn't help but laugh at the whole situation. We waited for AAA to come and had the car towed to my house for the night so I could figure out what to do. The original mechanic was pretty far, so I didn't really want to have it towed all the way there again. Friday, I didn't know how to get to work and needed to get my car figured out, so I didn't go into work. We had the car towed to a VW dealership not too far from my house and basically spent the day there. They did a diagnostic and found that ANOTHER tube was broken, one that is actually connected to or at least related to the original one that was replaced four days earlier. Totally annoying. I was told that to replace this new tube and the associated valves would be $950! And, on top of that, the car needs two new tires and new rear breaks. I finally decided that I'd had enough, the days of the Jetta were over. With all the money that we've already put into it since October, it just wasn't worth it anymore. This now meant I was suddenly in the market for a car.
  • After everything at the VW dealership I just needed a break from it all, so we went and saw The Hunger Games. I loved it though I do think it's a much better movie if you've actually read the book, a lot of detail, explanation, and character development is lost in the limited time of a movie.
  • Monday-Friday of last week I took the bus/metro to and from work. I'm working at a client in Dulles right now, so it wasn't a quick trip at all and involved two different buses and two different metro lines each way. On a good day it would take me one and a half hours, on a bad day it would take me more than two hours.
  • One day I decided to take the metro a couple stops farther to a nearby dealership to look at some cars. On my walk to the dealership my phone died. I hadn't preemptively planned out my route for getting home from the dealership, but I knew the general direction of my house, so I just set out on foot and ended up walking the whole way, which ended up being about an hour, not terrible. Needless to say, though, my reliance on public transportation was definitely a motivating factor in moving along the car search.
  • Another night after work Melissa helped me get to a dealership in Fairfax. We looked at some cars and test drove one, then went to dinner. As I was reaching for my wallet to pay I realized I didn't have my wallet, I had left it in the car we test drove. Total fail. I called first thing the next morning and luckily the guy was able to find it. Ken so awesomely helped out by going to pick it up and I got it from him the next day. There were a couple days though when I was without a car and without a wallet and I really felt like I wasn't a real adult.
  • All week was spent researching cars as much as possible. I wanted something reliable, safe, and good gas mileage since the commute I'll likely be doing within the next year will be pretty long and can get pretty snowy and icy in the winter. Friday last week Jon drove in and picked me up from work so that we could finally get the car situation resolved. Saturday we drove out to Baltimore where I had gotten a great deal from a guy on a Hyundai Tucson and I drove it off the lot! This is definitely downplaying the whole situation. In reality, actually making a decision and finding something was pretty stressful, but in the end I'm really happy to have the situation resolved and am thrilled with the car.
  • Sunday was Jon's birthday. After we got the car he rushed back to Franklin, WV just in time to watch the Priesthood session with his dad and cousins. He left thinking I would be following close behind him to surprise him for his birthday. When he discovered later that night that I still wasn't on my way, he was actually pretty upset about it and sad that I wouldn't be there. Luckily, I had been planning on driving up early the next morning, so when he woke up Sunday morning and sadly asked me if I really wasn't coming I was able to respond with a picture of his house. I think I successfully redeemed myself from his disappointment from the night before and we were able to spend a relaxing Conference Sunday together watching the great talks and celebrating his birthday with his family.
  • You can see from all of this that there hasn't actually been much wedding planning going on. The whole car situation took up pretty much all of my mental energy so I couldn't focus too much on the wedding. I did at least break down and buy two wedding magazines and only got local ones, so that all the adds are for local places. It's a step at least.

This week:
  • Finally start the wedding planning process. We're at about four months out now, guess that's as good a time as any to get started.
  • Exercise. With all the car complications I didn't end up getting any exercise in. I had been on such a good streak.
  • Go up to Jon's family's for Easter. He asked me to come up there a couple months ago just to ensure that he could lock me in before any plans were made with family here. I'll be sad to miss out on any DC family Easter gatherings, but it will be fun to be with Jon and his family.
  • Work. I'm actually really happy with work right now. It was a little up in the air for awhile as things with different clients were kind of falling through, but I'm on a client now that I enjoy and I really like the group I'm with. Sadly it keeps me out of the office all the time so I don't get to see Rachel or Steve, but it's a good situation.
  • I can't really think of anything else. Mainly I think I just need to plan the wedding.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Z Sisters - my turn again

We took a couple weeks off during the holidays, so this is a major catchup for most of us.


Christine









Last Few Weeks:
  • Had a great time in Utah for Christmas. Got to enjoy some delicious food, get a haircut with Christie, see my second showing of A Christmas Carol for the holiday season, see family at the Zackrison Family Christmas party and cousin Max's wedding reception, and spend lots of fun time with family. Christmas Eve was complete with our traditional In-N-Out dinner (it was so fun to see how everyone was carrying on the tradition in their own ways!) and Christmas was long for everyone but always so great. I really do love Christmas, but mostly because of all the time spent with family.
  • A week after I got there Jon joined me in Utah. His first night in town we ate at Hire's with mom and dad, Rachel and Ken, and Grandma Z, then went and walked around the lights at Temple Square. One night we got to meet up with Hillary and Scott for dinner at Red Iguana and a trip to the zoo for the Zoo Lights. In any free time we had we tried to spend time with the Wiley's which included a lot of potato chip making, trampoline jumping, and a quick trip to see Brenden on his bike jumps. The time went so quickly but overall it was a great trip.
  • On Saturday we packed up the car with mom and dad and drove down to San Diego to meet William and see Zack, Ana, and Jack. The drive was painless for me, I just slept the whole time, I've trained my body well. Our time in California was even quicker. We ventured up to Irvine for New Years Eve at Dave & Busters which was kind of a let down, but I've kind of decided NYE is always a let down. Sunday was a great day spent with family after Will's baby blessing. On the 2nd we headed up to LA for the Rose Bowl game which was apparently a super good game, I wasn't paying too much attention to it. Sadly we missed the parade which I had been really looking forward to because I had been strangely sick and I didn't think I could handle the early morning and crowds. I think the game made up for missing that, though. That night we spent some time in La Canada with some of my friends and then headed back down to San Diego pretty late.
  • Tuesday afternoon Jon and I flew to Florida for the Orange Bowl which was on Wednesday night (yep, I went to two BCS bowl games in one week, who knew I was so into football). That game I got into and it was super exciting, WVU scored 10 touchdowns! I'm really not that into football but even I know that's a pretty big deal. The whole day was pretty fun with a lot of activities going on around the stadium before the game, I was even able to win us 4th quarter field access by spinning a wheel at the Discovery tailgate party. In the end being on the field was not as awesome as we thought it would be since we were really only allowed in one corner and were behind the opposing team, so we couldn't really see much. By the time the game was over at midnight I was pretty exhausted. We had a flight at 6am the next morning back to DC and unfortunately weren't able to sleep any before that. Thursday it was so nice to finally get back home and I basically slept through all of Thursday.
  • The rest of the weekend was spent unpacking, doing laundry, and putting my room back together in preparation for actually going back to work again on Monday. After such a long break I almost forgot I actually had a real job to go back to. Not really. I've also returned from all this traveling a little sick, so I'm trying to sleep as much as possible to get over this pesky cold/sore throat combo.
  • Sunday night I was invited to dinner and games at Ben, Josh, and Ryan's house for Josh's birthday. It was a great time and always nice to see those friends, it had been awhile.

This week:

  • Return to work. I need to figure out which clients I'll be on these next few weeks and where I need to be.
  • Figure out when I'm going to take my next test. I was supposed to take one on the 6th after all my traveling, but yeah, I decided to just enjoy my holiday break instead of stressing about studying.
  • Read with Flor Monday at lunch.
  • Drop off dry cleaning. This has actually been on my to-do list for a few months now. That's sad.
  • Get back to the gym consistently.
  • Eat better. I just took some health risk assessment. My highest risk to my health comes from my horrible eating habits. That's not so good.
  • Finish cleaning my room. It's always a process.
  • Study.
  • I know there's more I need to be doing, almost too much to list, it's a little overwhelming.


Rachel







Last few weeks: (oops, just realized this is so long... I can edit it down in the morning, I'll send as-is for now)
  • It's been a whirlwind of travel, family, holidays, and of course a bit of stress mixed in there! We enjoyed our time in Utah and wish it hadn't been so jam packed. It didn't feel like there was a single free second to just enjoy. I guess that's just how life is now. Once we made it to the hotel in Los Angeles and I started working each day routine returned and we had a nice little re-charge.
  • Managed to miss our flight out from BWI to SLC. I don't think we'll ever be flying out of BWI again. I think I have a 25% make-the-flight rate from that airport.
  • Stayed with Ken's family in Alpine Wednesday thru Sunday. They had a great setup for us, it was very nice.
  • Saw Christmas Carol at Hale Center. Got my haircut.
  • Prepared for the Z Christmas party. I think it went very well. It could work nicely at mom and dad's for many years.
  • Final Christmas shopping on xmas eve. Met up for In n Out.
  • Santa came! Sunday was a very disjointed day with transitioning between 2 houses, having a missionary call in the middle of present opening, facing just how much stuff we brought and would have to bring back, church schedules all over the place, and having 2 family dinners to attend. I can't say it was my favorite Christmas day ever. But being altogether is always enjoyable.
  • Monday we met with friends for lunch and I finally found a new band at a jewelry store in SLC. They were nice enough to mail an empty box with our sales receipt to Virginia so we could avoid sales tax. Tricky.
  • Took June to build a bear which was as much fun for me as for her. Played ticket to ride with the older kids. Saw Sherlock Holmes with mom and dad.
  • Watched the setup of the Wiley's trampoline. Made cookies. Dinner with Ken's family at Cucina Toscana where his dad ordered 15 appetizers for the table. Wow.
  • Jon arrived, dinner with Grandma Z, dessert at the Wiley's including Webb & Laurel.
  • Stressed over our plans for CA and how we should get there, where we should stay when, if we should catch the parade, etc. That part of the (lack of solid) planning/stressing/evaluating trade-offs was not fun and is to be avoided in future years.
  • Rented a car, packed up, embarked for CA. Got pulled over, obviously. But didn't get a ticket, phew. Arrived at Zack's at 230am.
  • Played Beatles Rockband, went to the beach!!, went out to dinner with friends at a restaurant with comically large food.
  • William's baby blessing. Ken commented that our family has a really remarkable ability to gather. I agree, and I love it. Glad to see everyone. Wish we could have stuck around longer chatting at Z&A's.
  • Up to La Canada. Visited with the Frames and the Jacksons. Chatted with Haley late into the night.
  • Skipped the parade (so so so tragically sad to me). Made it to Disneyland's Club 33! Quite the experience. Rode all the rides which were "Christmas-tized" like It's a Small World. Disneyland is quite remarkably decorated for the holidays. I think I understand why people go this time of year.
  • Left Dland around 8pm, drove up to LA. Checked into our reserved hotel only to realize it was really not what I expected. Old, dirty, and not very close to the office. Called around and switch to the Omni Hotel so all I had to do was walk across the courtyard to work. MUCH BETTER.
  • Spent 3 days on a more relaxed schedule where I went to work during the day, Ken worked out and golfed and explored, we met up for lunch, and rested in the evenings. It was a great re-charge after our crazy couple weeks.
  • Flew back to SLC. Picked up our suitcases mom had left at a nearby hotel. Dropped off Ken's golf clubs with a friend. (Because we just can't ever make any traveling experience easy can we??)
  • Arrived at BWI at 1130pm where Ken's friend graciously picked us up. So nice of him.
  • Home finally at 130am. Wow.
This Week:
  • Dentist appointments Monday
  • Buy groceries. Still haven't bought milk since returning.
  • Cook dinner at home on Monday with the fresh ravioli's I bought from Eastern Market on Saturday. I hope they're still good.
  • Play volleyball on Wednesday night. We've started up with the same old group which is so fun.
  • Skip out on the Relief Society speed-dating-type get to know you activity on Thursday?
  • Friday one of Ken's good friends is getting married in SLC. As terrible as the timing is for us, we may have to make a 24 hour trip out for it.
  • Missionaries over for dinner on Sunday. Must plan and shop for meal before Thursday.
  • Return to normal eating!! I don't even want to count the number of meals, restaurants, treats, etc that we've over-consumed in the last 3 weeks. It's shockingly disappointing, and just not a lifestyle we can maintain EVERY holiday trip.
  • Work as though it's busy season. I have 3 months to really prove myself. It's time to get really focused. Must push through.
  • Hopefully this will be a pretty low-key week! (Except for the whole travel on Friday part...)

Ie Li

Last Week:
  • Got back from California. It was a very dreamy 10 days there. The weather was perfection. The cousins played all day everyday. The wedding and reception went off without a hitch. Ie Ling was a beautiful bride. William's baby blessing was lovely. He is so adorable. I love his baby smell.
  • Unpacked, packed up Christmas, and cleaned our house.
  • Met with a seventh furnace salesman and will likely commit to buying a furnace tomorrow.
  • Enjoyed some really warm days here in DC. The kids have been out riding their new two-wheelers almost everyday.
  • Went thrift shopping with my co-librarian Lyndsee. I found several great skirts.
  • Picked up Ie Ling and Blake from the airport, took them to Shake Shack for dinner, and dropped them off at their new place in DC.
  • Took Mei Li to a roller-skating birthday party. Talk about a blast from the past! Limbo? Macarena? Mei Li had a rough time learning to skate, but I admired her bravery and persistence. Many times she told me to let go of her and she could shuffle along for quite a while without any help from me.
  • Started watching Sherlock with Steve. Watch it. It's wonderful.
  • Took Mi Na to nursery for the first time today, and she did great. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will continue to go well.
Next Week:
  • Steve goes back to work. Tax season begins.
  • Start running again.
  • Finish A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. I love this book so. much.
  • Blog, blog, blog.
  • I would love to have Sunday dinner with Rachel and Christine. We'll talk.
  • Thank you, Z sisters, for being such good, kind, generous, and loving women. I am learning so much from your examples. I love you all.

Annee


This Past Week:
  • Two days after Christmas, after I got fully sick from all the stress, prep, and lack of sleep that goes into any successful Christmas extravaganza, I got in the car and drove to Atlanta, all by myself, to go visit Liz! It was the best after-Christmas present ever. We didn't do much at all. We mostly sat around, played with her baby, ate some great meals, and just laughed and talked. I guess we did run together every morning. That was fun! Anyway, hadn't seen Liz for over a year. It was the best to get to spend so much time together again. Her baby is super cute too!
  • After my trip, I came home just in time to celebrate New Years Eve. Got together with a few families and rang in the new year with fondue and games. This was the first time that all FOUR of our kids rang in the new year with us. It was fun, but was it worth it? There were so many tears during the day on Sunday. Turns out going to bed at nearly 1am is super rough when you are 6.
  • Finished "Little Women" and started and almost finished "The Wednesday Wars". I need to go sew something so that I can get through the final hour. I think next up will be "On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet". I'm excited!
  • Changed to the 11am church schedule! Hallelujah. Even better, I delayed the big Primary class switch over for one-more-week. I knew we didn't have all of our teachers back in town, and it just felt like we needed one more week! Best decision ever!!
  • In the spirit of closing out 2011 and welcoming 2012, a look back to appreciate the highlights?! A full year living and being settled in North Carolina. Our week in the Outer Banks makes me think that NC is one fabulous place to live! This was the year of substitute teaching. It's become more of the norm than the exception. It's kind of fun to have a little job. It might possibly be the best job to have when you still have a house full of kids in school. I ran a marathon! At long last, after four years in retirement and suffering through injuries, my stars aligned and I was able to complete another marathon. I'm so glad I got that done in 2011. Finally, as I was making my calendar for 2012 and looking back through my pictures from '11, I see that we went to DC lots, and had almost monthly visits with all or parts of the VA crew. I love that. I'm so glad we are close enough to make that a regular part of our year. And of course, a mention to our Summer Road Trip 2011: Gettysburg, Hershey, Cooperstown, Niagara Falls, Palmyra, D.C., Atlanta. It was epically awesome, as my kids would say.

This Week:
  • Just trying to recover from it all. The kids went back to school yesterday. They'll have piano this afternoon. Since Sunday, I feel like I've been running piano practicing boot camp. Trying to make up for the the weeks of Christmas when we didn't practice! Why does it have to be so much work to have your kids learn an instrument? I somehow thought it was going to be easier. I've turned down subbing jobs everyday so far. I just don't feel like things are under control yet. Bathrooms need cleaning, piles of laundry need to get folded and put away. The dining room table is still piled high with Christmas gifts that haven't been put away yet. I just need to focus on the domestic side of my duties right now.
  • Back to running. With Liz's help, I was able to run those three days in Atlanta, and I've run twice since being home. It's finally starting to feel easy again. It's so hard when running falls off the list of priorities to climb your way back to the "easy" point. I hate it when running is hard!
  • I really have lots of cleaning to do. I feel like the whole house needs an overhaul. Too bad just thinking about it makes me feel tired!
  • Looking ahead to 2012, my big goal (after I buy an iPad), is to start saving up for a month long trip "Out West". I need to start getting serious about setting aside hundreds of dollars with great regularity so that we can get the tickets soon. We're going to try to do it all. Spend a whole month, including Utah, Oregon and Colorado at the very least. The kids are super excited!
  • It might also be in 2012 that we start to learn a little bit more about the Air Force's future plans for Major Earnest. Will it be right back to Colorado, or will there be another detour in our future? We try not to think about it too much, but we might hear something from them by the end of the summer?!


Sarah

Here is a real-life display of what happens when I systematically ask every person in my family to please take my picture. Everyone but Huck groaned and complained and shot without even looking - no focusing, no 1,2,3, no check to make sure it's good before handing the camera back. Huck was excited but I'm not sure he's quite got the hang of it yet. Oliver thought it was super funny to turn the camera around and snap himself instead. Even Scott was unable to deliver a decent photo. So back the mirror in the basement I go. Pitiful.


Past few weeks:

  • Christmas is over. Got all the decorations packed up on Monday 1/2 in time for cleaners to come on Tuesday. It felt so good to have everything clean and organized and starting to get back into a normal routine
  • So sad to say goodbye to Rachel & Ken and Christine & Jon - Huck still asks every day where you all are. Please come back.
  • Spent New Years with the Kendricks - low key dinner & a movie. It was great. Left the kids home alone - with a friend for each of the boys, plenty of snacks, and silly string. We sort of regretted that decision when we walked in the door to the mess, but I guess that's what New Years is for.
  • Got a good start on a big looming work project last week. Starting is often the hardest part for me.
  • Caught up on Groundloop and household finances - I managed to get a bit behind so the red power bills were threatening me. Time to set up auto-pay I guess.
  • Did all my Christmas returns errands. Found out Jack never got our gift - guess I missed the backordered email. Sad.
  • Made OB appointment for me (I'm 19 weeks and haven't been checked at all yet - oops) and dentist orthodontist appointments for the kids.
  • Bought new garments that actually fit over my belly. Much more comfortable.
  • Sorted through the huge stash of maternity clothes from Ana. There is tons of great stuff here, but we have got to make some serious cuts ladies. Not sure I can do it alone - might require some photo/email system or a skype call or something?
  • Did a pretty good job getting the kids to bed at reasonable times all week. We had gotten way off schedule during the holidays and that was taking it's toll on all of us.
  • Lots of facetiming with the Earnest kids on the new ipad. So fun to see a glimpse into their daily lives.
  • Used our xmas money from Mom & Dad to get a new painting from a local artist Frederick Stephens - found at a gallery in Park City. I'm excited to be working on our living room art gallery. We'll see how well I can execute my vision.

This week:

  • Move Huck out of the crib into a regular bed in June's room in preparation for baby's arrival. Focus on getting both he and June to stay in their beds all night. That means I'm committing to take them back to bed every time they try to crawl in with us - which is the much harder option than just scooting over. But I definitely need to get it solved before the baby comes. I cannot even imagine anything worse than getting up in the middle of the night to take care of a baby and having a toddler to care for too. I know it will happen still, but I must take some measures now to decrease the problem.
  • Laundry. No way around this one. Maybe it's time to hire a laundry helper? Does that exist?
  • Meet with the new head of Downtown Provo Inc to see if they can help us raise funds for next year's Rooftop Concert Series.
  • Brenden Orthodontist appointment. Uh oh.
  • Work deadline is looming. Must focus. As soon as I'm done blogging.
  • Cook a few decent meals. Figure out some good snacks that I can eat. I AM ALWAYS HUNGRY.
  • Get the boys outfitted for their first day of snowboarding lessons on Friday. We got a tiny bit of snow this weekend - hope the snow quality's not too pitiful
  • Keep working on potty training Huck. He spends pretty much all his time at home naked, and is fully trained that way, but hasn't made the transition to pants just yet. I am encouraging and helpful but am really leaving it mostly up to him at this point.


Highlights from 2011: I feel pretty blah about everything these days so it's hard to think of highlights. I guess I'd say for me it was the Rooftop Concert Series, our east-coast trip, and my solo get-away to be with family in Richmond.

On the horizon for 2012:
Biggest thing will be a new baby in June, or as Scott & June are convinced - 2 new babies. Also looking forward to another east-coast trip to hit DC. Will this be pre- or post- baby? That is the question. Looking forward to getting my hormones back in check and feeling less blah all the time.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Z Sisters update - and still that's all the blogging I've done

SARAH
Last (2) week(s):
  • I feel like this pregnancy is affecting me hormonally more than my others have and I've found myself feeling more down and unmotivated and generally unenergetic than I'd like. So there was far too much moping around and taking mid-day naps, not working and not doing anything fun with the kids. Gotta get a handle on all that.
  • Executed Halloween - June wore her BYU cheerleader costume for the "real" Halloween on Monday night, but refused to before that to her school party or the elementary school parade. Huck made a very cute BYU football player and Oliver was a total nerd. In true 12-year-old form, Brenden wore the tshirt that says "this is my costume." The boys went off with neighborhood friends, and Huck and I answered the door for a while before joining Scott and June for a short walk around the cul de sac. We made way too much chili for the ward party but it was the cheap canned kind so I didn't feel too bad when I poured two huge pots worth down the drain.
  • I did make it to yoga once and ran on the treadmill twice. How much is 8K anyway? I've done 5 miles - does that mean I can do 8K? Will they shut down the finish line if I take more than an hour? I'm not very fast
  • Took Brenden to an indoor skatepark in Midvale, and took advantage of being north to bring home Pei Wei for dinner. I sure love that place.
  • Caught 4 mice. Well actually I had nothing to do with the actual catching except maybe I was the one who saw one first (I was just sitting minding my own business in the living room when a tiny mouse popped out from behind the couch) so I made Scott set the traps and clean them up. The kids think dead mice are NBD and that it's so funny mom won't even look at them.
  • Man I really haven't done much the past couple weeks. See point #1 above, I guess.
This week:
  • Get my hair cut! This is long overdue and I'm hoping will help lift me out of the doldrums a bit. Maybe time for something more dramatic.
  • Get the Lower Lights Christmas CD off to duplication and set it up for pre-orders on the website. I'm really excited about this album - it turned out great!
  • Get our cub scouts pack re-chartered with the BSA. Not sure why this arduous process must be repeated every year. I guess it's an excuse for them to collect fees more frequently.
  • I need to take June shopping for some new clothes. She has gotten so picky about what she'll wear. I'm totally dreading this, but seems the only hope to getting her some seasonal clothes that fit her if she's the one who can pick them out. I have to be very careful about where we go, though. She needs new long pants, jeans, long sleeve shirts, dresses, a sweatshirt, and shoes.
  • Grocery shopping - it has been far too long. Dreading this too.
  • More yard work - I'm making slow but sure progress to prep the yard for winter. Need to pull out the vegetable garden next.
  • Run a couple more times?
  • GO TO RICHMOND!!! I'm so excited to see everyone this weekend. It will be a whirlwind I'm sure, but super fun and just what I need to look forward to.


ANNEE
(you all remember what she looks like, right?)
Last Week
  • Halloween! The kids didn't have school on Monday. But I was so happy they didn't. We needed a morning to sleep in and do nothing. I rolled out of bed around 9:30, and got them to agree that I should go for a long run. Got home around 11:30, made pancakes and eggs, which qualified as breakfast and lunch! Spent the afternoon running errands with four kids, which included getting some Papa Murphy pizza's for Halloween dinner night. Did you know they make a jack-o-lantern pizza on Halloween every year? And it's only $6. We've been buying them every year since moving to Colorado.
  • Subbed twice. Got called in at the last minute for a job on Tuesday. I had a long ago agree to a job on Thursday, subbing for Ruby's teacher. At one point in the day Jane come into Ruby's class too. I have to give my kids tons of credit for being super mature about handling it when their mom is their sub. It makes me proud that we can all act appropriately in those types of situations.
  • Spent all day Friday shopping with Darin. I think what prompted the trip was new church clothes for Henry. He's been wearing the same navy blue khakis since last November. With his new ordination as a Deacon, it seemed a good excuse to spiff up his church wardrobe a bit.
  • Piano started again! Our teacher has been out on maternity leave. We love that she's back, but MAN it's a lot of work to have four kids taking piano lessons. It's my greatest challenge of persevering! I hope I triumph in the end.
  • Spent a whole lot of time wearing my running shoes with jeans. I got new shoes just over a week ago. I know they are going to be great shoes. I know they are! But they are making my toes numb for any run longer than three miles. I'm kind of nervous about the situation.
  • Darin and Henry went on an 11 year-old scout camp out. They thought they were freezing. I tried reminding them how much more freezing they would have been if we still lived in Colorado!
  • Busy Sunday as per usual. Totally awesome to have Henry passing the Sacrament for the first time, with his dad. That was a great Sunday. He looked super handsome too. I had early morning meetings, followed by sharing time. Came home, to start getting ready to host the missionaries for dinner. This included taking down our Halloween decorations. They were good while they lasted. Lucky for me, Darin let me sneak off for a long nap while my rolls were rising. I don't think I would have made it through the day without that nap!!!


This Week:
  • Monday morning 6:15am call to be George's sub. I said "yes" only for the novelty. Otherwise I probably would have said no. Ruby was up in the night. Then Jane was up in the early morning. I was tired! Let's hope we have a good day here in the 4th grade.
  • MARATHON!!! I'm running a marathon on Saturday?!?!! Ready or not...
  • My upper hamstring is still bothering me. I'm wondering if I should buy the groupon for the massage and hope that I can cash it in sometime this week?
  • Subbing for Jane's class on Thursday.
  • Driving to Richmond on Friday. Can't wait to see everyone. The excitement over the reunion is helping me not worry so much about the race. It's going to be fine, right?
  • I'd love to start a quilt this week. I have this great idea. I really want to see it come to life. I doubt there is time. It's a dream, on the wish list for this week.

IE LI
Last Week:
  • Did my 9 mile and 5 mile runs. I will have to do my 10 miler on Monday.
  • Trick or treating.
  • Took Stephen and Mi Na to the farm while Mei Li was at school.
  • Didn't do any laundry. Our washing machine is still broken and we're waiting for the replacement part to arrive. I have never craved doing laundry as much as I do right now.
  • My visiting teacher took our family pictures on Saturday.
  • Helped with an Eagle Scout project.
  • Had our first parent teacher conference. Mei Li is doing great and we are so proud of her. We also saw the picture of Mei Li's admirer. For some reason, I was relieved to see that he was little and wore glasses.
  • Went to my optometry appointment. My prescription has improved since my last check-up.
  • Had my Chinese neighbors over for dinner on Saturday. They helped me translate the characters on the headstones of my ancestors. As soon as my neighbors left, I entered all of the information into Family Search.
  • Had Sunday dinner with Rachel, Ken, and Christine.
This Week:
  • 10 mile run
  • Mi Na's doctor appointment
  • Mei Li and Stephen don't have school Monday or Tuesday so I'm thinking of taking the kids on another fall drive.
  • Start planning Stephen's birthday party.
  • Make some headway on Christmas presents and advent calendar.
  • Richmond half marathon! Can't wait!

RACHEL

Last Week:
  • Had training offsite all week. It was a nice change of pace. One of the instructors was a retired PwC partner who reminded me so much of dad. One day he asked how many of us change our voicemail message every single day. Everyone was SHOCKED that someone might actually do that. It reminded me so much of dad who might continue to change his voicemail recording every single day until his last.
  • Helped CZ rent a car on Tuesday night at the DCA airport.
  • Wednesday night I fell asleep for the night at 9pm before Ken even got home from work. Oops.
  • Thursday our friend came over who was in town for another accounting firm.
  • Friday I had to get to training super early to turn in our final paper. Ken went to court officially representing me as my lawyer and got a parking ticket dismissed. How exciting!
  • Bday dinner at J. Gilberts. It's a great local restaurant which is always PACKED.
  • Friday night we made the turkey brine. Saturday at 6am we put the turkey in the brine.
  • Saturday we went out to Lucketts to see their holiday display and browse for xmas decorations.
  • Attended a technique class at William Sonoma where they taught about turkey prep. Used the extra discount for attending the class to FINALLY pull the trigger on our knife set (Wusthoff Classic Ikon). It only took one full year!
  • Sunday dinner at Steve's house. The chili was delicious!
This Week:
  • Continue with the Thanksgiving practice and make an apple pie for Thursday's enrichment meeting.
  • Organize the guest room. It needs some serious attention. I'm tired of it being the catch-all.
  • Clean everything in preparation for visitors.
  • Buy the last pot I've been planning to buy for the last year. It's 25% off, so time to pull the trigger.
  • Work diligently each day. A full week out of the office has me feeling behind! Need to get everything from fall busy season wrapped up and filed away.
  • Mom comes to town!
  • Caravan down to Richmond with our friend Severin, in town for another interview.
  • Sarah comes to Richmond! And Dad comes to Richmond!
  • Run the Richmond Half Marathon!!! Cheer on Annee in the full marathon! I'm getting really excited about it all. I printed out the course today and planned everything out. It is going to be so great!
  • Celebrate ONE YEAR OF MARRIAGE. Wow. Think of a gift or something?
  • Say bye to Sarah and drive back up to DC.
  • I'm so excited for this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CHRISTINE

Last Week:
  • Started work! I made it to my first day despite my car issues and made it through the whole week. It's definitely going to take some discipline getting on a good schedule so that I can get sleep while also having a life outside of work. Thinking back to last week I feel like I really didn't do a whole lot other than work as I was getting used to the new schedule. My first day of work seriously felt like my birthday with all of the messages and calls I was getting from people, it felt so nice to be remembered and to realize how many people are interested in and following my life. Ben and Ryan came and picked me up from work at the end of my first day since I was stranded with no car and took me out to dinner to celebrate the new job. It was all very nice and fun.
  • Spent a lot of time trying to decide what to do with the Jetta. Friday we successfully got it towed from Morgantown, WV to Vienna, VA by combining the resources of Geico and AAA. A Geico tow truck driver picked the car up in Morgantown and dropped it off at a McDonald's 56 miles away in Granstville, MD, leaving the key on the driver side wheel. The AAA driver then picked the car up from the McDonald's and towed it the rest of the way to a garage in Vienna. I was glad it all went smoothly and worked out despite the actual Geico and AAA people telling me that it couldn't be done and that the car couldn't be picked up or dropped off with no one with it. I knew that if I could just get to the actual tow truck drivers and explain the situation to them they'd be totally fine doing whatever. Luckily I was right. The car is now at the shop and luckily the issues don't seem to be as bad as I had originally thought them to be so it shouldn't be too bad to fix.
  • Friday after a full day at my real job I went and worked the closing shift at Anthropologie. Yes, I do still officially work there and haven't told them I'm planning on leaving anytime soon. Luckily for some reason they're willing to keep me on the schedule despite my requests to work no more than one night a week and to have at least a couple weekends off each month. I'm not really sure why they're ok with it, but as long as they are I guess I'll stick with it. It was actually kind of nice working there and being on my feet after having sat at a computer all day, but I was ready to go home by the time the store closed and ended up having to stay until midnight, so that was a little rough.
  • Saturday I took advantage of the weekend and had a fun day playing mini golf, going to Cafe Rio, and finishing out the day at the Sounds concert at the Black Cat in DC. It's funny how all the sudden now that I'm working full-time the weekends have taken on a whole new meaning. They're actually significant and much more appreciated now.
  • Had a delicious Sunday dinner at Steve and Ie Li's. It's always so great and fun to be with family and see all the kids.

This Week:
  • Continue to work on getting into a good schedule. I need to be sure to go to sleep at a decent hour because that really determines how the next day will go.
  • Figure out how to make time for exercising. Last week I just gave up on it while I was dealing with car issues, but this week I need to be much better about at least running or doing something.
  • Try to bring a lunch to work everyday. Getting lunch everyday is definitely expensive and not in the budget, so I need to plan ahead each night so I have something to take the next day.
  • Go to dinner with Melissa. It's crazy that even though we're in the same city now it's nearly impossible to have time to see each other.
  • Go to the DMV to renew my license. I actually made it to the DMV last Saturday morning but unfortunately the system was down so no DMV anywhere in the state of Virginia could help me get it done. Totally lame.
  • Drive to Richmond Friday after work for more family time! I'm totally excited and still committed to running the 8K, although I'm totally ok with walking part of it. I'm mainly just going for the family aspect and I'm so excited for that!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Z Sisters update - again

I hate getting out of order here and so far hosting the sisters update once every 6 weeks has been an effective way to force me to catch up before each one. But alas not this time. I have to move on even though I still haven't written about the end of summer, or the first day of school, or Brenden's 12th birthday, or many other things. Some of that stuff is covered in my past entries to the sisters updates here (Annee's 8/21), here (Ana's 8/31), here (Ie Li's 9/6), here (Rachel's 9/12), or here (Christine's 9/26).

Maybe I'll get back to blogging one day. In the mean time, here is an update from several of the sisters...


Christine

Last week:
  • My pod arrived on Monday with all my stuff! I was so excited to finally get everything, especially my bed. Monday night Ben and Josh came and helped bring everything in from the pod. Then I spent a few days unpacking and deciding where I wanted everything to go, then Ryan and Ben came over Thursday night to put all the big things in place. It's slowly all coming together, definitely a process, but I'm happy to finally be feeling settled somewhere.
  • Worked Tuesday and Saturday. I thought I was scheduled to work Friday and went in ready to work, but apparently there had been a miscommunication and I wasn't working. Things have been kind of crazy and the store and I guess some girls have been quitting or just not showing up so the schedule is getting all messed up.
  • Went to Truckeroo Friday afternoon. This is an event that happens once a month through the summer where about 30 of DC's food trucks gather together in one place for the day so you can come in and try whichever ones you like. Thanks to the advice of Rachel I went and it was actually pretty cool and fun to try some of the different foods.
  • Went karaoking with a group of people from church. It was pretty fun and good to meet some people, but I have a hard time getting really into karaoke.
  • Enjoyed conference from home on Saturday and from the church on Sunday. I loved it all.

This week:
  • Work. A lot. Basically everyday. They keep calling and asking if I can come in for more shifts, I guess I'm reaping the benefits of some girls quitting or disappearing?
  • Continue to unpack and get everything in place. It's a process.
  • Study. Somehow October is turning into my busiest month, but I'm still determined to take at least a couple tests before I start, so I will study.
  • Run. These past couple weeks I have not been running nearly enough, time to get serious about the November race.
  • These are the only things I'm allowing myself to do this week, I have to stay focused.

Ie Li
Last Week:
  • Ran three times. My Saturday rainy, 4-mile run was my first run without any significant foot or hip pain. I am hoping and praying this continues as I have a lot of work ahead of me. My plan is to increase my long runs by two miles each week from here on out. I'm looking forward to it. I remembered that I actually like to run.
  • Mei Li's farm field trip on Thursday. Loved it.
  • Excused Mei Li from school on Friday so we could to go to Mount Vernon with Michiko and the boys. The weather was perfect, and of course, Mount Vernon was amazing.
  • Our whole family plus Michiko and boys, drove down to Charlottesville to tour Monticello on Saturday. Monticello is breathtakingly beautiful. I want to go back and spend more time there.
  • We had this great idea that we would listen to the first session of Conference on Steve's phone on the way to Monticello, and the second session on the drive back. It only kind of worked. The signal was only strong enough for us to listen to two talks. It was disappointing. And now we are catching up.
  • Went to a thrift store, and purchased two large beautiful mirrors for $30 total. Both need to be painted. I think they are going above our couch and above our mantle. Finally.
  • Made two batches of cinnamon rolls on Conference Sunday for the little army we have here. I've never made cinnamon rolls before, but they turned out great. They are definitely a once, maybe twice a year indulgence.

This Week:

  • Run.
  • Join Michiko on a couple of adventures. You can read about her adventures here.
  • Steve and I are going to LA for one day. I know it's crazy, but we're leaving the kids and we really wanted to be at Will K's wedding.
  • Sand mirror frames.
  • Choose a paint color for the living room mirror!
  • Get a new nephew? We love you, Ana!

Sarah
Last week:
  • Potty-trained Huck. You'll notice this wasn't one of my goals last week, and was quite a spontaneous decision on Monday morning to tackle this project. On Monday I took his pants off and didn't leave the house and I just watched him like a hawk all day. Everywhere he went I'd follow him. Everywhere I went I made him come with me. When I'd see it coming we'd run to the potty so by the end of the day he pretty much got the picture. He was not used to my undivided attention, though, and it was starting to bother him that he never had any alone time, so a couple of times he tried to tell me "Mommy stay here, I go downstairs". I don't know if that's a good or bad thing (for him to not be used to so much attention) but either way it worked. By Tuesday he was starting to tell me when he needed to go beforehand. We've had a couple little accidents but nothing too major. There is serioulsy nothing cuter than a new toddler in undies.
  • Brenden and Oliver babysat until midnight on Friday night - this is major and opens up all sorts of options for us. We had put Huck & June to bed first, although Brenden did have to read June one more story and sit with her until she fell asleep. Oliver fell asleep on the couch and Brenden stayed up watching TV later than he usually gets to. Wins all around.
  • Re-potted a bunch of plants - moved the lemon tree up a pot size and finally gave Rachel's orphaned plant a permanent home in one of my favorite pots.
  • Finally got back on the treadmill a couple of times.
  • Finished George's xmas stocking (take 2). Hope this one isn't too small now.
  • Started a knitting project to keep me awake through conference - made it halfway through (the project, not conference). Not sure if/when I'll ever finish it.
  • Took Oliver & June to their first day of gymnastics and they both loved it. Need to figure out a better way to entertain Huck for 2 hours while we sit and wait. It is very close to the Springville Antiques Mall - so that would entertain me but probably not do much good for Huck.
  • Got June's painted dresser back and it's super cute. Unfortuantely I didn't precisely measure the spot where I was going to put it - need to figure out a new arrangement now.
  • Watched General Conference - tried to find "quiet" activities (jigsaw puzzles, k'nex, legos, etc) to occupy the kids in the room so they could at least absorb some of the spirit of the messages. Unfortuantely they all needed so much hands on help I was pretty distracted much of the time so I guess it sort of backfired.
This Week:
  • Figure out a rain-out plan for the Rooftop Concert Series final show with The Lower Lights on Friday. The forecast is looking rather bleak which is very disappointing. I'm still hoping for a miracle too.
  • Otherwise get ready for the final Rooftop Concert Series show on Friday. I'm excited for the show, but ready to have a bit of a break for a few months.
  • Sew living room curtains. I got my fabric in the mail - the in-laws come on Thursday so unfortunately there's no longer time to have someone else sew them. That's ok - nothing fancy - pole pocket & a hem. I can do it. (psyching myself up)
  • Celebrate Mom's birthday - I really love living so close to them and getting to see them easily and often.
  • Work
  • Run
  • Sleep
  • Probably give up on the thought of getting out to delivery thank you notes to the businesses who donated to the silent auction. That's probably ok, right?


Rachel is excused due to BUSY SEASON (i.e. 90+ hour work weeks)

Annee is excused too (can't remember her reason right now)

Ana is excused due to HAVING A BABY
(hope it's ok to post this picture of beautiful William Todd Zackrison & mama)